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6 Data-Backed Ways to Crush Your Sales Goals in 2021

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Written by Erica Schultz
Chief Marketing Officer, RAIN Group

It's 2021 and now is the time to begin executing on your plan to blow the doors off your sales goals. But so much in sales has changed in the last year alone. 

Where should you begin? What’s going to make the biggest difference? What are others doing that's working today?

To answer these questions, we looked across our sales research studies and pulled out 6 key ways Top Performers stand out compared to The Rest.

Why should you care? Top Performers have significantly higher win rates on proposed or quoted opportunities than The Rest: 5_data-backed_ways_to_crush_your_sales_goals_in_2020

The average sales win rate is 62% for Top Performers compared to just 40% for The Rest. That’s a 22-percentage point difference! As illustrated in this article, average sales win rate differences lead to significant improvements in revenue and margin. 

If that’s not a good reason to emulate Top Performers, I’m not sure what is.

6 Ways to Crush Your Sales Goals in 2021

  1. Drive Value
  2. Expand Existing Accounts
  3. Master Virtual Selling
  4. Maximize TIME for Maximum Sales Productivity
  5. Improve Sales Manager and Sales Coaching Effectiveness
  6. Generate Quality Leads


6 Ways Top Performers Excel

Here are 6 ways Top Performers stand out, with data backed by the RAIN Group Center for Sales Research.

1. Drive Value

All sellers talk about providing value, but few do it well. Buyers report that only 42% of meetings with sellers are valuable. The other 58%? No value received. No value leads to no next meeting and no sale.

To drive value, you need a plan to create value. You need to live and breathe value. In our Top-Performing Sales Organization Research, we found that 81% of Top-Performing Sales Organizations agree they focus on driving maximum value for buyers compared to only 61% of The Rest. 

Click here to download our Top-Performing Sales Organization Benchmark report.

In a separate study of 700 B2B purchases, we found that sales winners educate buyers with new ideas 3X more often than second-place finishers. Educating with new ideas and perspectives proved to be the #1 factor separating winners from second-place finishers.

Focus on driving value, and you’ll not only differentiate from the majority of sellers who don't, you'll experience wildly better sales results.


2. Expand Existing Accounts

One of the biggest untapped opportunities for sales growth is selling to existing accounts. In our study of 397 organizations that engage in formal strategic account management, we found that three quarters of respondents believe they should be generating 25% or more revenue from their strategic accounts.

To drive serious sales growth, become effective at growing your existing accounts.


3. Master Virtual Selling

The days of face-to-face meetings and in person networking, are over (for now at least). To succeed in the current sales landscape you must master selling virtually. This includes developing new relationships online, leading impressive virtual meetings, collaborating online, and keeping buyers engaged. Sellers report that each of these is challenging in our Virtual Selling Skills and Challenges report:

  • 91% of sellers are challenged by gaining buyer's attention and keeping them engaged
  • 88% are challenged by developing relationships with buyers virtually
  • 82% of sellers have difficulty collaborating with buyers and interacting with buyers virtually
  • 80% of sellers find making the transition to virtual selling challenging

Use the Virtual Selling Checklist to improve your skills.


4. Manage TIME for Maximum Sales Productivity

71% of organizations don't believe their sellers manage their time and day effectively. To beat your sales goals, you need sellers to maximize their time and motivation to get the right things done. Fortunately, many sellers can reclaim the time they spend on low-impact, non-selling activities and redirect it to core selling activities.

In our study of nearly 2,400 business professionals, we found that 47% waste a significant amount of time each day at work.

We break TIME down into 4 levels:

  • Treasured: Time you hold dear
  • Investment: Time that generates outsized returns
  • Mandatory: Time spent doing things you feel you have to do
  • Empty: Time you waste

The people who rate themselves as “extremely productive” (The XP) are much more likely to spend their time on core selling activities. How much more? 1.5X more to be exact.

There’s huge potential to increase sales productivity simply by helping sellers manage their time and day to stay focused on the right activities that drive growth. 


5. Improve Sales Manager and Sales Coaching Effectiveness

Organizations are significantly more likely to be found among the Top Performers when sales managers inspire sellers, work with sellers to build plans, and hold sellers accountable for executing their plans.

Management in Top-Performing Sales Organizations prioritize and maximize the time managers spend coaching 5X more often than The Rest. Furthermore, 55% of Top-Performing Sales Organizations have managers who are effective at creating and sustaining maximum seller energy.

To get your sellers to perform at the top of their game day in and day out, hire effective sales managers to coach sellers, manage them, and keep their motivation high.

6. Generate Qualified Leads

Generating qualified leads is a top sales challenge for most organizations. You need sellers who can proactively generate leads and meetings to fill the pipeline. You need sellers who excel in prospecting.

Top Performers in Sales Prospecting generate 7X more meetings than The Rest, and generate those meetings in fewer touches (5 vs. 8 touches to generate a meeting).

Our study of both buyers and sellers revealed that WAVE is what sets Top Performers in prospecting apart:


  • Winners mindset: Top Performers are more likely to think about themselves and about prospecting more favorably, which correlates with prospecting success.
  • Attraction campaign: Top Performers are more likely to make effective use of a variety of contact methods and content, in an organized, planned way.
  • Value: Top Performers are more likely to customize messages and put in the effort and time to demonstrate value to buyers even before they speak with them.
  • Execution: Top Performers are better at managing their time, energy, and focus for prospecting. And they possess better prospecting skills.

You certainly don't have to have complete mastery of all 6 of these things right out of the gate in 2021. Choose one or two, do them well, and add the next one. As you progress, you’ll see your win rate improve, and before long, you’ll be closing that 22-point win rate gap and crushing your sales goals.

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Topics: Sales Performance Improvement

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